Here's the upshot: The Congressional Budget Office estimated in February that employer-sponsored insurance will decrease by 8 million people (3%) by 2019.
Overall, that's not what happened in Massachusetts, which also has employer mandates, though there are differences. For example, employers in Massachusetts with 11 or more workers pay just a $295 per employee penalty for not making a "fair and reasonable" contribution toward a worker's health insurance coverage.
The financial burden on companies under the healthcare law in Massachusetts is less, but they have to start offering health coverage help with a much lower threshold of employees—just 11 compared to 50 under PPACA.
Even with those requirements, PwC's HRI study found that under Massachusetts law, employer-sponsored coverage rose from 70.8% in 2006 to 72.1% in 2011 while the rest of the nation saw a decline in employer coverage by nearly nine percentage points.
But, the retailers and others are on to something. Dig a little deeper into the HRI's findings, and two of the three industries that saw declines in employer-sponsored coverage were retail and service. Service occupations saw a 5.1 percentage point decline; sales and related positions saw an 8% decline in coverage. The findings don't specifically speak to the industry's concern, but it does give them another, viable, talking point.